There are five packages that include Creative Labs Audigy sound card. Which one
do you want or do you need one at all? Well not being a sound card
expert I can honestly say the only reason I got my Audigy MP3 was because
it was a birthday present but ever since I have been playing with it every
little chance Iíve had for the last month. Itís just got more features
and software with it than you can play with in a day! I was one of
those skeptics that thought you absolutely could not get quality sound
out of a PC sound card and I didnít want to spend a lot of money just to
find out I was right. Well I was wrong with a SoundBlaster Audigy
Mp3 and a set of Altec Lansing 4.1 Speakers, also a birthday present, you
can get a stereo quality listening experience!
The card itself has analog, digital and firewire (IEEE1394) output along
with the other standard connections like line in and microphone and it
also came with a separate plug in game port (MIDI). The card supports 24bit
Multi-Channel at 96 kHz but it uses software to convert the audio, something
called sample rate conversion or SRC Software but you canít seem to manipulate
your sound files at that sample rate. The card wants to play by default
at 48 kHz but the software also lets you sample at 44.1 kHz or 96 kHz for
recording from external sources like a turntable or cassette or CD.
It also samples at 16bit up to 48 kHz. The Audigy has low latency
multi-track recording ASIO support for high quality low noise recording.
As far as gaming goes this card has a 32bit audio effects engine that does
a very nice job of environmental effects on the games that I have tried
it with, for instance: Neverwinter Nights and Unreal Tournament.
The sound just blew me away when I downloaded Creative Labs additional
EAX update files to go with Unreal Tournament which is a first person shooter
that already had good sound effects as games go. The environmental effects
and sound depth in the game were tremendously improved by using the EAX
sound options. While I was perusing around the multitude of Creative Web
sites I also found that they have put effort into adding downloadable sound
fonts and a bunch of game update files and even some maps for Unreal Tournament
to show off the EAX effects and digital media capabilities of the card.
They also have some updates for their players and editors available online.
So I get added value and they get an A for effort. The other thing
that blew me away was the multi-channel audio capability. I ran three different
media players at once and played streaming Internet radio; Mp3 and wave
file music at the same time thinking that this would crash something or
the sound would be garbled but I was able to distinguish each piece of
music separately and distinctly vocals and all.
Now where music listening is concerned, the EAX effects mostly make
everything sound a little weird to me like the music is coming from the
bottom of a well but there are some recordings where the effects are an
improvement. The software install sets up a task bar menu that allows you
to change preset sound effects on the fly and it has effects that will
bring up the volume and definition of the vocal track or give it a slight
echo like a concert halls acoustical quality, so the effects arenít all
fluff like originally thought. The other nice thing about the effects
being in the task bar is that you can use any media player you prefer like
WinAmp or Windows Mediaplayer which has come in very handy since PlayCenter
3 has crashed on me a good number of times while I was multi-tasking other
Well I suppose we should get on to the different packages, specifications
and requirements as I said before there are five variations of the Audigy
packaged as the Soundblaster Audigy DE, Gamer, MP3, Platinum, and Platinum
EX. They all come with some base software:
for firewire networking two computers together.
to play Rip and Burn Music CDís or audio files.
Creative Sound Mixer:
for basic sound file manipulation.
Gold Mine Demo:
to show off the EAX Environmental audio.
The Audigy DE also includes: OOZIC Player a 3D visualization creator,
IM Tuner to listen to streaming Internet audio and a 3D game called Giants:
The Audigy Gamer also includes another game called Deus EX. The Audigy
MP3 that I got doesnít have any games but it comes with MixMeister 3 MP3
mixing software and Beatnikís Mixman for remixing Wave files.
The Audigy Platinum has a 5.25 Breakout box that goes in a drive bay
and puts your connectors out front along with a volume control and a remote.
The software bundle includes: OOZIC Reactor which is a hopped version of
OOZIC Player, WaveLab Lite a wave file editor, Ulead Video Studio
for digital video editing , Recycle Lite for sampling, Cubasis VST
for music recording, Vienna Sound Font Studio 3.0, and the game Giants:
The Audigy Platinum EX has an external breakout box and remote control.
The software is the same as the Platinum but without the game and including
Acid DJ 2.0 for arranging and editing and a Sequencer called Fruity Loops.
The Audigy packages range in price from $60 - $250 so a little homework
might be in order, my personal opinion is that I wouldnít spend a lot of
extra money on software or break out boxes unless I was a musician or a
DJ and wanted those tools. If you are a gamer the two games together
would cost almost as much as the Gamer card package if you donít have them
and you can download good Wave File editors from the Web for free like
Cool Edit Pro at Syntrillium.
Some other Web sites to check out are Tom's
Hardware for reviews, EAX,
for files and information.
I wonít even bother with the minimum requirements since you will probably
want to play with all of the bells and whistles so Windows 98 or later
is a must and there are no Mac OS or Linux drivers available anywhere as
of this writing and you will need a Pentium II 350Mhz/MMX or an AMD 450Mhz
with 3dNow, 128MB of Ram and 1GB of hardrive work space for audio editing
and gaming. For DVD playback they want you to have a 2nd Generation
DVD player and WinDVD or PowerDVD, and for streaming audio you will need
at least a 56kbps modem. In conclusion only very serious gamers and MP3
fans need this card or if you have a firewire device that is just begging
for a port and you happen to be short one sound card you will have a bargain
and a lot of fun with all this card can do.